September 2012 Archives

More on L2 Gateways

Gateway L-2 Mission: Opening Cislunar Space or Dead End?, Paul Spudis

"A recent report by the NASA human architecture team has given us a glimpse of the agency's thinking about future missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Interest is focused on sending human crews to a "Gateway" outpost stationed at the gravitationally stable Earth-Moon L-2 point. The facility, built with plans and parts derived from the construction of the International Space Station, would slowly circle the L-2 point in a halo orbit. From its "hovering" position over the lunar far side, it would be in direct communication with Earth."

NASA Ready To Announce Deep Space Human Mission (Update), earlier post

NASA Watch Service Disruption

Marc's note: As some of you have noticed NASA Watch was offline for nearly a day. This was the result of a Denial of Service attack that was directed specifically at NASA Watch (it would appear) and not our other websites. We are working with our ISP to determine the source of the attack.

United Space Alliance laying off 121 Floridians, 13News

"United Space Alliance says they are laying off over 150 employees across the country -- the majority being here along the Space Coast. USA said 121 of its workers in Brevard County will be laid off. The reduction represents about six percent of their total workforce. Following the layoff, USA will have a total 2,263 employees -- with 1,073 of those in Florida, 1,186 in Texas and 4 in other states. The layoff is due to a reduction in work scope as the Shuttle Transition and Retirement work approaches completion."

Law says Apollo astronauts can keep, sell artifacts

"President Barack Obama ended a months-long fight over NASA relics this week when he signed into law a bill that confers full ownership of early NASA artifacts to the astronauts that took them as souvenirs. The legislation follows a public -- and sometimes bitter -- battle between NASA and its astronaut corps over the sale of keepsakes from the agency's earliest days, most notably the nearly $390,000 auction of a systems checklist from the infamous Apollo 13 mission."

- Congress Deals With Space Artifacts and Moon Rocks, earlier post

- NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items, earlier post

"It should be abundantly clear by now that the NASA IG and General Counsel offices have no consistent policy whatsoever when it comes to selling historic Apollo era artifacts. In some cases you can sell pieces of the Moon, and in other cases you cannot. In some cases you can sell items used during Apollo missions, in other cases, you cannot. And of course, it is also acceptable practice to rough up little old ladies and threaten lawsuits against elderly former astronauts."

Final Report: NASA's Challenges to Meeting Cost, Schedule, and Performance Goals, NASA OIG

"Cost increases and schedule delays on NASA's projects are long-standing issues for the Agency. A 2004 Congressional Budget Office study compared the initial and revised budgets of 72 NASA projects between 1977 and 2000. The initial budgets for these projects totaled $41.1 billion, while their revised budgets totaled $66.3 billion, a 61 percent increase. Moreover, since its first annual assessment of NASA projects in 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has consistently reported on cost growth and schedule delays in the Agency's major projects. For example, in its 2012 assessment GAO reported an average development cost growth of approximately 47 percent, or $315 million, much of which was attributable to JWST. As GAO noted, cost and schedule increases on large projects like JWST can have a cascading effect on NASA's entire portfolio."

NASA learns the dark side of a sunny outlook, Federal Computer Week

"Then the IG noted the "Hubble Psychology." The report defined it as "an expectation among NASA personnel that projects that fail to meet cost and schedule goals will receive additional funding and that subsequent scientific and technological success will overshadow any budgetary and schedule problems." In other words, NASA officials believe that major NASA projects will get funding for science's sake, despite how the projects are managed. The Hubble Space Telescope is one major project that exemplifies the risks of optimism in the report. The program has had its problems, but they have been mostly forgotten, the IG wrote."

Streambed Discovered on Mars

Remnants of Ancient Streambed Discovered on Mars

"NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence - images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels - is the first of its kind. Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow."

U.S., Europe Won't Go It Alone in Mars Exploration, Space News

"Let me say this clearly, because we hear all the time that NASA has 'abandoned' ExoMars," Bolden said. "We have not abandoned ExoMars, and the Electra payload is an example of our continuing high interest in the mission."

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter,

"NASA will not be moving forward with the planned 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions that we had been exploring with the European Space Agency. Instead, we will develop an integrated strategy to ensure that the next steps for Mars exploration will support science as well as human exploration goals."

Keith's note: Note: Electra is a UHF radio/relay on MRO. It is already in orbit at Mars. As such, it doesn't take much "high interest" on NASA's part to allow ExoMars or any other mission to use it - as long as it still works.

SMARTCAP: Funding medical products for use on Earth and in space

"Do you know of a small company developing a medical product that could be adapted to solve a health or human performance challenge in space? Have you developed a biomedical product for the space program that could also improve health on Earth? The National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for the Space Medicine and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) award that provides support in moving a selected product toward commercialization. The 2013 SMARTCAP award will be for a maximum of $250,000 for a one-year period."

One Last Flight

Thoughts on the Last Flight of the Shuttle, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"I was at NASA Ames last week when the final flight of the final space shuttle Endeavour on its way to its final destination occurred. As many people did, I stood outside, on top of our MacMoon's at Ames and took pictures. There were over 20,000 people at NASA Ames that waited hours for an event that took no more than one minute to consummate. Beyond that there were hundreds of thousands more people all around Silicon Valley who were outside and watching when the shuttle flew overhead."

Keith's note: There is a comment posted by Mark Uhran, former Assistant Associate Administrator for the International Space Station. Normally I'd refuse to allow ad hominem insults - especially those directed at someone's family - to be posted. But I think Uhran's coworkers might find his bitterness to be noteworthy.

Photo: Space Shuttle Endeavour's Last Flight As Seen From Orbit

"Late last week, the Space Shuttle Endeavor flew atop a 747 into White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The shuttle continued its journey to Edwards Air Force Base in California. In October, The Space Shuttle Endeavor will be moved via road to a special display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. During the flight, DigitalGlobe captured an amazing image of the shuttle."

NASA Hosts Teleconference on Status of Mars Program Options

"NASA will host a media teleconference 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 25, to provide details of a summary report provided by the Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG). The MPPG was established to aid with planning for the agency's future Mars Program within available future budgets. The summary report will be posted an hour before the teleconference on NASA's MPPG webpage."

NAS Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (dial-in/webcast)

"10:15 a.m. PDT (1:15 pm EDT) Report of the Mars Program Planning Group - Orlando Figueroa"

Mars Program Planning Group Summary of Final Report

Keith's note: NASA has announced that Patrick Scheuermann will be the new Center director at MSFC. Current SSC Deputy Director Richard Gilbrech has been appointed as the new SSC director. Former MSFC Center Director Robert Lightfoot is now officially NASA Associate Administrator.

Bolden Seeks To Replace Multiple Center Directors, earlier post

NASA wants to send astronauts beyond the moon, Orlando Sentinel

"Top NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the agency's next major mission: construction of a new outpost that would send astronauts farther from Earth than at any time in history. The so-called "gateway spacecraft" would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars. At 277,000 miles from Earth ... "

Keith's note: NASA PAO has provided this verbose, stock-phrase rich, non-denial-denial response to the Orlando Sentinel article: "NASA is executing President Obama's ambitious space exploration plan that includes missions around the moon, to asteroids, and ultimately putting humans on Mars. There are many options - and many routes - being discussed on our way to the Red Planet. In addition to the moon and an asteroid, other options may be considered as we look for ways to buy down risk - and make it easier - to get to Mars. We have regular meetings with OMB, OSTP, Congress, and other stakeholders to keep them apprised of our progress on our deep space exploration destinations. This concept is a part of the Voyages document that we mentioned in an earlier Update posted on in June:" Refer to page 26 of the chapter titled, "Habitation and Destination Capabilities."

Keith's 24 Sep 11:45 am note: According to a Tweet by @RPISciDean (Laurie Leshin): "From Jim Green at #CAPS: Traffic on the ENTIRE INTERNET increased by 30% during landing of @MarsCuriosity -- wow! Go #MSL!" I have asked NASA PAO if they can confirm Jim Green's claim - as relayed by Laurie Leshin.

Keith's 24 Sep 6:30 pm update: No answer yet. This would be a rather remarkable accomplishment for NASA - rivaling the ~ 1 billion TV audience for the Apollo 11 landing. As such, one would think that the agency would be much more vocal about the impact of Curiosity's landing on global Internet traffic - if this claim is true, that is.

Keith's 25 Sep 10:38 am update: According to NASA PAO: "NASA Public Affairs does not know where Jim Green got this information nor can we confirm it." Now that NASA has officially cast doubt on the veracity of this claim, It would be nice if Jim Green would explain where he got this information - or admit that he made a mistake.

Keith's 25 Sep 7:00 pm update: According to NASA PAO, Jim Green was mistaken in referring to a "30% increase in traffic on the ENTIRE INTERNET". Instead, there was a traffic spike on Akami around 2 am EDT on 6 Aug 2012 of "31% above normal" with regard to what traffic would normally be on certain portions of Akami (not the entire Internet). Akami handles a large portion of global Internet traffic at any given time. That said, NASA PAO says that during the Curiosity landing that thy doubled their previous high for peak webcast stream traffic. Indeed, in 48 hours they distributed more than 1 petabyte of data. But Jim Green's claim that the entire Internet surged by 30% due to Curiosity-related traffic was simply inaccurate.

NASA's Plans to Modify the Ares I Mobile Launcher in Support of the Space Launch System, NASA OIG

"The OIG found that NASA's decision to modify the Ares I Mobile Launcher is technically feasible and the most cost-effective option for launching at least the initial versions of the SLS vehicles. However, further assessment of planned modifications to the Mobile Launcher will be needed as the SLS continues to evolve and its design solidifies."

Video: A Toy Train in Space

"On Aug 24th 2012 we sent my son's favorite train "Stanley" to space in a weather balloon with a HD camera and an old cell phone for GPS. He was recovered 27 miles away in a corn field and we got some great footage of the trip. This video documents the journey from liftoff to landing."

Keith's note: This gives me yet another excuse to link to my all-time favorite space video "Reach" - which resulted from a NASA competition. True to form, NASA promptly forgot about this video as soon as it was made.

Mitt Romney pulls in $6 million at Beverly Hills fundraiser, LA Times

"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."

Navy Announces Research Vessel to be Named in Honor of Neil Armstrong

"Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the first Armstrong-class Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) ship will be named Neil Armstrong. Mabus named the future R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) to honor the memory of Neil Armstrong, best known for being the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong was an aeronautics pioneer and explorer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) serving as an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator. Armstrong also served as a naval aviator flying nearly 80 combat missions during the Korean War."

Gingrich criticizes Romney-Ryan space plan, NBC

"One-time presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who promised during the GOP primary to create a U.S. moon colony if elected, criticized Mitt Romney's plan for space exploration as not being "robust" enough. "The Romney plan for space starts to move in the right direction but could be much more robust," the former House speaker told NBC News a day after the Republican presidential nominee unveiled his "Securing U.S. Leadership in Space" plan. "We could move into space much, much faster than we are. Romney is better than [President] Obama on space but could be bolder and more visionary."

Gingrich & Walker: Obama's brave reboot for NASA, Washington Times (2010)

"Despite the shrieks you might have heard from a few special interests, the Obama administration's budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration deserves strong approval from Republicans. The 2011 spending plan for the space agency does what is obvious to anyone who cares about man's future in space and what presidential commissions have been recommending for nearly a decade."

Other posts on Newt Gingrich

According to this statement from the Romney campaign by Scott Pace: "We have enjoyed a half-century of leadership in space, but that leadership is eroding due to multiple policy and management mistakes by the current Administration. Our nation's space efforts require clear, decisive, and steadfast leadership to determine exactly where we are going and the larger purposes behind our space program in support of vital national interests. A Romney Administration will provide the steadiness of purpose, coherence, and bipartisan support that our nation's space community needs and deserves."

The Romney position paper states: "For the first time since the dawn of the Space Age, the United States has no clear plan for putting its own astronauts into space. We have a space station that we cannot send astronauts to without Russian transportation."

Keith's note: Scott Pace's comments evidence total amnesia on his part. Regardless of whether you think it was a good or bad idea, the plan to retire the Space Shuttle and rely upon Russia to transport Americans to the ISS for a number of years was put in place by the Bush Administration - not the Obama Administration. After working in the Bush White House, Scott Pace spent 4 years with Mike Griffin at NASA during the Bush Administration implementing this policy. The net result under their leadership was a gap between shuttle retirement and Constellation implementation that grew, costs that rose, and performance that dropped. Looks like Pace, Griffin et al have their own Etch-A-Sketch when it comes to space policy. Just shake it and the past goes away.

Mike Griffin/Scott Pace Road Show Update, earlier post

NASA And Motorola Poke Fun At iOS 6, Learn How To Get Google Maps Back On Your iOS Device

"This isn't the only company making fun off iOS 6 though. NASA's own Curiosity Rover claimed that he was updated to iOS 6 and was now in Norway! What a terrible coincidence. Here's the CuriosityRover's entire tweet: NASA HAVE UPDATED ME TO iOS 6. APPARENTLY I'M NOW IN NORWAY."

Keith's note: There is clear confusion between the official NASA Twitter account @MarsCuriosity and the spoof Twitter@MarsCuroisity - this author attributes a tweet from the parody Twitter to one made by NASA's official Twitter account. Between a slight change in spelling and nearly identical design, its easy to be confused - at first - until you actually read the tweets, that is. Some of the stuff is funny. Too bad they have to use the F-word in almost every tweet - rather lazy and uncreative.

Keith's note: The following was issued by the Romney Camapign:

Romney Campaign: Securing Leadership in Space (with policy paper)

"Embracing A Robust Role For Commercial Space:

Mitt Romney recognizes the exciting opportunity that the commercial space industry offers for technological innovation and commerce. He will establish a clear framework that ensures NASA serves as a constructive partner for private sector initiatives.

- NASA will set the goals and lead the way in human space exploration, working from a clear roadmap in partnership with our allies, research institutions, and the private sector.

- NASA will look whenever possible to the private sector to provide repeatable space-based services like human and cargo transport to and from low Earth orbit. It will provide clear and timely guidance as to expected needs so the private sector can plan and invest accordingly.

- The private sector will handle commercially viable activities -- from satellite launches to space tourism to new businesses and industries that U.S. entrepreneurs will no doubt create if provided a friendly environment for doing so. NASA will license technology as soon as is practicable, and aim to facilitate the growth of this sector.

All of these efforts will produce technologies that can be commercialized throughout our economy, spurring growth and job creation and strengthening our competitiveness. "

There is, of course, the required bashing of Romney's opponent and the prerequsite call for (yet another blue ribbon) panel to fix whatever it is that is broken. Otherwise, in addition to its stated commerical policy (above), the Romney team also mirrors the Obama policy i.e. no clear locations are specified, no time frame is offered, and no budget pledges are made. The space policy advisors listed on the position paper are: Scott Pace (Chair), Mark Albrecht, Eric Anderson, Gene Cernan, Bob Crippen, Michael Griffin, Peter Marquez, and William Martel.

@ElonMusk: "First test flight hop of our Grasshopper VTVL rocket!".

Click on image for video.

Photo: Looking Up At Endeavour

@yembrick "So close to Endeavour that the entire bird doesnt fit in my iPhone pic. #OV105 #spotheshuttle #NASASocial"

NASA Invites Californians to Participate in Endeavour Flyover

"The orbiter, atop its 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is scheduled to fly over northern California and a large area of the Los Angeles basin beginning at about 8:15 a.m. PDT."

Photo: Space Shuttle Endeavour Flies over NASA Ames Research Center

"This photo was taken from the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field on 21 September as Space Shuttle Endeavour made a low level flyover. Credit: SkyCorp."

Space Shuttle Discovery: Old Friend, New Neighbor, earlier post

"As soon as I got onto the airport itself the roads were lined thick on either side with cars - and more were parking every second. People had walked up onto bridges where you never see pedestrians. Others congregated in the grassy regions inside of entrance and exit ramps. Again, these are places you simply never see people - much less crowds. This was an immense flash mob that appeared so fast that the police did not have time to respond. No one was directing traffic yet everyone seemed to be cool about being considerate and safe."

Craig Covault Joins SpaceRef

Veteran Space Reporter Craig Covault Joins Growing SpaceRef Team, SpaceRef

"SpaceRef is pleased to announce that award winning veteran reporter Craig Covault has agreed to join the growing SpaceRef team. Craig will be a Contributing Editor for SpaceRef's Space Quarterly magazine and a Senior Editor for SpaceRef's network of web sites."

Marc's note: I'm happy to make this announcement, Craig will be a great addition to our team.

Reps. Culberson, Wolf, Posey and Olson introduce the Space Leadership Act

"The last 30 years have been marked by canceled programs due to cost-overruns, mismanagement or abrupt program changes at the start of each new administration. In the past 20 years alone, 27 programs have been cancelled resulting in over $20 billion wasted on uncompleted programs. This legislation establishes a new Board of Directors to provide a quadrennial review of space programs and a vision for space exploration that will set a tone for NASA's endeavors to ensure American preeminence in the space industry."

Texas Republicans cosponsor bill to reform, depoliticize NASA administration, Houston Chronicle

"Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said despite his involvement in previous bipartisan successes with NASA legislation, he was not contacted during the drafting of the Space Leadership Preservation Act. "It sounded like they just wanted Republicans on it, they didn't want it to be bipartisan," he said. With Congress breaking for election season after this week and loaded schedule of legislation to deal with before the end of the session, Green said he doubts anything will come of the act and suspects it is largely an election ploy."

Text of "Space Leadership Act" legislation, as introduced

NASA to Brief NRC on Its New Mars Plan Next Week, SpacePolicyOnline

"Orlando Figueroa will brief the National Research Council's Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS) next week on the results of his Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG) effort. Figueroa is scheduled to brief the committee on Tuesday at 10:15 am PT (1:15 pm ET) at the NRC's Beckman Center in Irvine, CA. The NRC plans to webcast the meeting."

House Passes Bill to Clarify Astronaut Ownership of Mementos from Apollo-Era Space Missions

"Describing the bill, Chairman Hall said, "This bill seeks to eliminate any further ambiguity about Apollo-era artifacts that were received by the astronauts. It simply says that astronauts who flew through the end of the Apollo program will be granted full right of ownership of any artifacts received from their missions."

- Congress Deals With Space Artifacts and Moon Rocks, earlier post

- NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items, earlier post

"It should be abundantly clear by now that the NASA IG and General Counsel offices have no consistent policy whatsoever when it comes to selling historic Apollo era artifacts. In some cases you can sell pieces of the Moon, and in other cases you cannot. In some cases you can sell items used during Apollo missions, in other cases, you cannot. And of course, it is also acceptable practice to rough up little old ladies and threaten lawsuits against elderly former astronauts."

NASA chief Bolden says criticism of agency's direction 'undermines our nation's goals at a very critical time', Houston Chronicle

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden dismissed rumors that the future of U.S. space exploration is in jeopardy and rejected speculation that his agency has no plans for future human spaceflight. "Those who perpetuate that myth only hurt the space program," Bolden told businessmen, academics and journalists Tuesday afternoon at the National Press Club. "Such talk undermines our nation's goals at a very critical time," he said. "The truth is we have an ambitious series of deep space destinations we plan to explore and we are hard at work exploring the hardware and the technologies to get us there."

Endeavour Heads West

Image: Space Shuttle Endeavour Over Houston, Texas

Space Shuttle Endeavour Ferry Flight Continues West

"After the refueling stop at Biggs, the SCA and Endeavour will make low-level flybys of the White Sands Missile Range and NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, as well as Tucson, Arizona en route to California. The flyover of Tucson will take place approximately an hour and 15 minutes after departure from Biggs. Arrival at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base is scheduled for approximately noon PDT."

Jaylee Mead

Jaylee Mead dies: NASA astronomer was a cultural benefactor in D.C., Washington Post

"Jaylee Mead and her husband, Gilbert, came, in some ways, from different universes. Gilbert was an heir to the riches of Consolidated Papers in Wisconsin -- one of the largest papermakers in North America -- while Jaylee was the daughter of a general store owner in rural North Carolina. They worked together for years at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, he as a geophysicist and she as an astronomer, one of the few women of her generation to pursue a career in astrophysics."

Dragons' Den's Holy Crap Cereal rockets to the International Space Station

"We're thrilled that Riley, the Canadian Space Agency contest winner from Abbotsford, suggested our Holy Crap cereal be sent to the International Space Station" says Corin Mullins, CEO of HapiFoods Group. "We originally developed the cereal for emergency kits because of its healthy nutritional content and long shelf-life so it seems more than fitting for it to go up to the Space Station. .. Holy Crap, the Dragons' Den organic hemp and chia seed cereal phenomenon, rocked the Canadian natural food product industry ..."

Azerbaijan joins its "black list" of U.S. astronauts (translated via Google), Armenia Today

"Azerbaijan joins its "black list" of U.S. astronauts. Azerbaijani authorities intend to declare persona non grata two foreign nationals who recently visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. This is an astronaut Charles Duke and Claude Nicollier. Duke and Nicole were part of a scientific conference "Man and Space", which was held in Stepanakert. The conference was dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong. ... The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan now claim that for "illegal, inconsistent with Azerbaijan" visit Karabakh astronauts will be included in the list of persona non grata."

Keith's note: The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not officially recognized by Azerbaijan (or anyone else) and is aligned with Armenia. Since Duke and Nicollier "joined" a list, I guess that list already existed. What other astronauts have insulted the Republic of Azerbaijan? Its not all together clear if being on the "black list" is an honor or an insult. I guess we need to ask Borat.

Full translation below

NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice Draft Announcement for a Joint SMD and HEOMD Science and Exploration Institute and Request for Comments

"NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) intend to release a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for the NEW NASA science and exploration institute (name to be determined) no earlier than October 2012. The new institute will retain the successful structure of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), consisting of new peer-reviewed and competitively selected teams managed by the current small central office located at NASA Ames Research Center. The new institute will be a virtual research organization that leverages knowledge and expertise from the science and exploration communities and supports NASA's goals in lunar and planetary science and human exploration of the solar system. It is anticipated that approximately seven teams will be selected in response to the proposed CAN."

Bob Wharton

President of South Dakota School of Mines dies, PRapid City Journal

"Wharton served as executive officer for the National Science Foundation's office of polar programs, participating in 11 expeditions to the Antarctic. He also was a visiting senior scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C."

Keith's note: I am profoundly saddened to hear of Bob's passing. I got to know Bob very well when he and I worked at the old Life Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters in the 1980s. Bob was an astrobiologist before the word had even been coined. He was an adventurer and a jack of all trades. Among other things, he spent a lot of time diving under Antarctic ice with Chris McKay and Dale Andersen and roaming the Antarctic dry valleys. He was also an avid climber and mountaineer. Bob and I went rock climbing several times. One trip in particular, to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, on a day not unlike today, is etched into my mind. I can clearly recall asking him on that trip if he thought there was life on Mars. He paused for a moment and said "I ... think so". I can only hope that somewhere on Curiosity's travels across Gale crater on Mars, that something of prominence is named after Bob Wharton.

B612 Foundation Receives New Funding and Strategic Support From Prominent Leaders in Business, Entertainment, Science and Technology

"The world's first privately funded deep space mission - SENTINEL - received major support this week from prominent members of the business and financial community who joined the B612 Foundation's Founding Circle. In June, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission, a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of asteroid discovery and mapping. This premier scientific instrument not only will provide millions of asteroid discoveries, but also help us prevent a major asteroid impact on Earth. Sentinel will detect and track asteroids accurately enough to give decades of warning of impending impacts to allow humanity to easily deflect threatening asteroids using existing technology."

Keith's note: NASA just repeated this tweet to its 2.9 million followers: "In 1 hour, join @NASA and @SBAgov in a Google+ hangout to celebrate #smallbiz contributions to @MarsCuriosity". OSTP (the White House) host posted multiple tweets for its 300,000+ followers such as yesterday's tweet "Tomorrow join @NASA & @SBAgov for Google+ Hangout w/ ATA Engineering, a small business that helped land @MarsCuriosity" and posted something on its official blog.

I have looked back over a week of Tweets by @MarsCuriosity. No mention whatsoever of this event was made to its 1.1 million followers. I did not see anything from JPL PAO on this event either. No mention is made on any of the missions multiple official websites either. It is rather odd that the White House and NASA Headquarters go out of their way to highlight the @MarsCuriosity mission - and bring in the SBA so as to emphasize the economic value/impact of space exploration - and yet JPL PAO can't even be bothered to tell people about it?

NASA Administrator Bolden and SBA Administrator Mills "Hangout" with Curiosity Small Business ATA Engineering

"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills highlighted the contributions of small businesses to the success of the Curiosity rover's landing on Mars during a Google+ Hangout Wednesday with ATA Engineering, headquartered in Herndon, Va. ATA Engineering partnered with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) team to test and analyze the entry, descent and landing of the rover, specifically the wheels, actuators and thermal control systems."

Warp Field Mechanics 101, NASA JSC

"Finally, an overview of the warp field interferometer test bed being implemented in the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory: Eagleworks (APPL:E) at the Johnson Space Center will be detailed. While warp field mechanics has not had a "Chicago Pile" moment, the tools necessary to detect a modest instance of the phenomenon are near at hand."

The Warp Drive Could Become Science Fact, via Disovery

"White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive in their laboratory. They set up what they call the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer at the Johnson Space Center, essentially creating a laser interferometer that instigates micro versions of space-time warps. "We're trying to see if we can generate a very tiny instance of this in a tabletop experiment, to try to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million," White said."

NASA Head Bolden: Warp Speed Ahead, US News & World Report

"Former astronaut and NASA head Charles Bolden says the agency wants to one day design a vehicle that goes faster than the speed of light. "One of these days, we want to get to warp speed," he told a group at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Bolden was discussing the future of American space exploration. "We want to go faster than the speed of light, and we don't want to stop at Mars."

Keith's note: I wonder who is paying for this ... JSC? OCT? HEOMD? Where (specifically) does this research fit into the agency's overall strategic plan? No one at NASA ever bothers to explain this.

US Scientists to Use Chinese Moon Lander for Space Research,

"The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) of Kamuela, Hawaii has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Beijing-based National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences ... [Steve] Durst said that the exchange in kind calls for China's NAOC to receive observing time on the ILO-X and ILO-1 mission instruments -- science gear that's part of the International Lunar Observatory Association's work with Moon Express, a Google Lunar X Prize enterprise based at NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif."

Shuttle Endeavour Ferry Flight Rescheduled to Sept. 19

"NASA's ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19 due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Endeavour now is expected to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday, Sept. 21."

Weather Postpones Shuttle Endeavour Ferry Flight to Sept. 18

Shuttle Endeavour Flyover of Northern California Postponed to Sept. 21

"NASA's ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) has been rescheduled due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path. The planned flyover of northern California has been postponed 24 hours and is now scheduled for the morning of Friday, Sept. 21."

NASA DFRC Information on Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover Times for 21 September 2012

"We have approval from the FAA, Ferry Ops Manager and SCA Commander to publish or externally use the following expanded language for the California flyover: ... "

Yet Another Space Policy Bill

Reps. Culberson, Wolf, Posey and Olson introduce the Space Leadership Act

"On Thursday, Reps. John Culberson (TX-07), Frank Wolf (VA-10), Bill Posey (FL-15), and Pete Olson (TX-22) will announce the introduction of the Space Leadership Act that will change business as usual at NASA and result in a more stable and more accountable space program. Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is also an original cosponsor of the bill."

Google+ Hangout with NASA, Small Business Administration Chiefs Sept. 19 Features Mars Curiosity Contractor, NASA

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills will speak about the contributions of small businesses to the success of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission during a Google+ Hangout at 10:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 19. "

Marc's update: It's good to see NASA using social media tools like Google+ Hangout. I hung out in a recent sessions and it proved to be very informative. What's more, you can ask Bolden questions in this one. Now whether your question is passed on and answered is another matter. But it is a cost effective way of getting your message out and interacting with the public. We'll see if these sessions catch on.

It's time for America to make miracles again -- with Obama, opinion, Katheleen Kennedy Townsend, Orlando Sentinel

"On Aug. 6, NASA again made history by successfully landing the Curiosity rover on Mars to look for signs of life and pave the way for the first human mission. No other country in the world has done what we have done on Mars. I was almost as excited by that miracle landing as I was in 1969 as an 18-year-old girl, mesmerized by the sight of American footprints on the moon. President Kennedy never lived to see that dream come true. But so many of his miraculous dreams are living reality today."

Obama on Medicare, space in Florida, Politico

"And while Obama was in the neighborhood of the Kennedy Space Center, he praised NASA for the successful landing of the spacecraft Curiosity on Mars last month. Obama called Curiosity "an incredible achievement that speaks to our sense of wonder and can-do spirit." He said the landing serves as "an example of what we do when we combine our science, our research, our ability to commercialize new products, making them in America."

White House details automatic cuts, calls them 'blunt, indiscriminate', The Hill

"Cuts of approximately $110 billion are set to take effect in Jan. 3, according to an agreement reached by the administration and Congress, with half of the cuts falling on discretionary and non-discretionary defense budgets, and the other half affecting non-defense budgets."

U.S. budget sequester cuts science over 8 percent, Nature

"NASA would lose $417 million from its science budget, $346 for space operations, $309 for exploration, $246 for cross agency support, among other cuts."

Sequestration Would Cut U.S. Science Budgets By 8.2%, White House Estimates, Science

"NASA's science programs would drop by $417 million to about $4.7 billion, and its Exploration account would fall by $309 million to about $3.5 billion."

Sequestration report: Embassy security cut by $129 million, Human Events

"Other alarming cuts include $1.4 billion in funding for NASA ..."

- OMB Sequestration Update Report to the President and Congress for Fiscal Year 2013, White House
- OMB Report Pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (P. L. 112-155), White House

NASA Research Opportunities in Space Biology

"This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits hypothesis-driven Space Biology research proposals for 1) Ground-Based Research Designed to Lead to Space Flight, 2) Rapid Turn-Around Space Flight Experiments 3) ISS Flight Experiments and 4) New Space Biology Investigations. NASA Space Biology experiments have one or more of the following primary goals: 1) to effectively use microgravity and the other characteristics of the space environment to enhance our understanding of basic biological processes; 2) to develop the scientific and technological foundations for a safe, productive human presence in space for extended periods and in preparation for exploration; and 3) to apply this knowledge and technology to improve our nation's competitiveness, education, and the quality of life on Earth. NASA Space Biology (SB) experiments will be designed to discover how space flight affects a diverse group of microorganisms, plants, and animals; study the effects of gravity (g) across the g-spectrum, i.e., from micro- to hyper-gravity; and characterize the biological effects of radiation, magnetic fields, and the interaction amongst species in the unusual environments of space and spacecraft."

Keith's note: This NASA space biology solicitation makes no mention of CASIS. CASIS makes no mention of it on their website. This is somewhat baffling given that this is exactly the sort of research CASIS is supposed to be doing on the ISS. Indeed, their website says:

"Biosciences will be the first research area that CASIS will promote for National Lab utilization. Access to space will give researchers a unique discovery platform for biological and physical processes that can significantly affect cell biology, human health, macromolecular crystal growth and microencapsulation."

Hearing Charter

"NASA cannot exercise the same level of insight it normally has in other technology development efforts. NASA has not been able to credibly estimate the expected total cost to certify the companies' designs, or the cost to buy launch services."

Ralph Hall, statement

"If our nation is going to ask crews to explore space, it is our responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that those astronauts return to Earth safely. I'm not convinced this approach is the right one but I'm willing to listen."

Witnesses Say NASA Must Have Expanded Role in Ensuring Astronaut Safety as Commercial Spaceflight Capabilities Develop, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Vice Admiral Joseph W. Dyer, USN (Ret.), Chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, expressed significant concerns with NASA's proposed plans. Since the U.S. government will not own the vehicles, the designs, or the intellectual property, NASA cannot exercise the same level of insight it normally has in other technology development efforts. Admiral Dyer told Committee Members that NASA's, "current acquisition approach--commercial transportation system development that is funded under a space act agreement concurrent with certification that is funded under a federal acquisition regulation-based contract--is complex and unique. In our opinion, this approach is a workaround for the requirements and communications challenges implicit to the space act agreements."

Committee Democrats Raise Concerns about NASA's Commercial Crew Program

"In response to Mr. Gerstenmaier's comments that NASA is "hoping" to get the funding level ($525 million) in the Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013, as well as get the President's request level of about $830 million per year in fiscal year 2014 and beyond, Ms. Edwards said, "I strongly suggest, especially in this [current funding] environment, to pin an estimate of completion of an activity based on a 'hope' [for full funding], will be a real challenge, I think, for the agency."

- William Gerstenmaier, statement

- Joseph Dyer statement

Boeing Establishes Baseline Configuration of Commercial Crew Transportation System

"Boeing and NASA recently established the firm baseline configuration for the company's Commercial Crew Transportation System, achieving the first performance milestone in NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative."

Neil Armstrong Memorial

NASA Coverage of Neil Armstrong Service at National Cathedral

"NASA will provide special live programming of the public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong at 10 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 13." Replay of the service.

National Cathedral Memorial for Neil Armstrong; Burial at Sea, earlier post

NASA photos from the service

How Neil Armstrong inspired a POW, John McCain, Washington Post

"Once in a while, the Vietnamese unwittingly let a little good news slip by. One evening, Hannah played a clip of a speech by a prominent American opponent of the war. It was a quick, throwaway line in a long list of diatribes about the war and the president. But we all caught it. The quote was something like: "President Nixon can put a man on the moon, but he can't end the war in Vietnam."
Yes, that was news to us, arriving years after the successful Apollo 11 mission."

NASA Requests Proposals for Initial Contracts to Certifying Commercial Crew Transportation Systems

"NASA on Wednesday released a request for proposals for the first of two contract phases to certify commercially developed space systems in support of crewed missions to the International Space Station. Through these certification products contracts, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) will ensure commercial missions are held to the agency's safety requirements and standards for human space transportation system missions to the space station."

Hearing: The Path from LEO to Mars, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on "The Path From LEO to Mars." This hearing will examine NASA's exploration portfolio -- both robotic and human -- beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) to the surface of Mars. The hearing will begin with an update from project scientists working on the Mars Science Laboratory mission."

- John Grunsfeld
- Fuk Li
- John Grotzinger
- Steven W. Squyres prepared statement
- Charles F. Kennelprepared statement
- Jim Maserprepared statement

Hearing on SLS/Orion

Hearing: Examining NASA's Development of the Space Launch System and Orion Crew Capsule

"The purpose of the hearing held by the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics is to examine on-going development of the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion capsule and related systems, as well as discuss how these technologies can be used for future scientific missions."

- Hearing Charter
- Dan Dumbacher prepared statement
- Cleon Lacefield prepared statement
- Jim Chilton prepared statement
- Matt Mountain prepared statement

NASA holds G+ hangout today for Neil Armstrong and Kennedy's Moon Speech

"Today, Wednesday 9/12, NASA will pay tribute to Neil Armstrong and the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy's "Moon Speech" at 12pm PT / 3pm ET, with NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers coming together in a one-hour Google+ hangout to remember historic NASA innovations and discuss the future goals for scientific discovery and human spaceflight."

James B. Armor Wins 2012 AIAA von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management, AIAA

"The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce that the 2012 AIAA von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management has been won by Maj. Gen. James B. Armor, U.S. Air Force (retired), AIAA Associate Fellow, and vice president, strategy and business development, ATK Space Systems Division, Beltsville, Md."

Marc's note: Coincidentally the current issue of Space Quarterly has an interview with Maj. Gen. Armor. Here's an excerpt. You can read the full interview by subscribing.

If the Mars rover finds water, it could be H2 ... uh oh!, LA Times

"On Nov. 1, after learning that the drill bit box had been opened, Conley said she had the mission reclassified to one in which Curiosity could touch the surface of Mars "as long as there is no ice or water." Conley's predecessor at NASA, John D. Rummel, a professor of biology at East Carolina University, said, partly in jest: "It will be a sad day for NASA if they do detect ice or water. That's because the Curiosity project will most likely be told, 'Gee, that's nice. Now turn around.' " If water is found, Curiosity could still conduct tests from a distance with instruments including a laser and spectrometers."

Mars Rover May Be Contaminated with Earth Microbes, NPR

"... what we would do is we would take a step back, and we would convene a panel of scientific experts to review the whole procedure, look at the amount of ultraviolet light that might've been hitting the drill bit that would be burning, you know, giving all those organisms sunburn. There are a small number of organisms on the rover, many, many fewer than there are on the palm of your hand. But there are a few. So we would convene this panel of experts. We'd look at the conditions at Gale Crater. We'd consider what the characteristics of this potential water or ice might be, and then that panel would decide how we should proceed with the potential to study that."

Hearing: The Path from LEO to Mars, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"Sep 12 2012 2:00 PM"

NASA to Host Mars Curiosity Rover Progress Teleconference

"September 12, 2012 2 p.m. EDT"

Keith's note: Why is NASA SMD PAO scheduling a media event on MSL at the exact same time as a Senate hearing that includes MSL Project Scientist John Grotzinger and Fuk Li, Director of JPL's Mars Exploration Directorate? You'd think that there'd be a little more coordination on these things within SMD.

Keith's note: How's this for confusion - Google "NASA Comercial Crew" and these results show up as the top selections. Which one is the main page for people to go to for commercial crew information?

- Commercial Crew Program (CCP) at
- Commercial Crew and Cargo at
- Commercial Crew Program Updates at

Despite claims that they are working the issue, HEOMD's website are just as confused, conflicting, and redundant as they have always been. Alas, this problem is rampant across NASA. No one is actually in charge of its web presence - it just happens.

Why does NASA need multiple websites for the same mission?, earlier post

"The following is put at the bottom of most press releases issued regarding Mars Curiosity.
"More information about Curiosity is online at:, and"

- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Sprawling Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

Keith's note: The following hearings and meetings will be happening over the next few days (3 2 are tomorrow). All of these events are overtly related to space commerce. Yet you see zero mention of any of these events by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. One would think that their member companies and other interested parties would like to know that these things are going on. Oh well.

- 12 Sep: Hearing: Examining NASA's Development of the Space Launch System and Orion Crew Capsule
- 12 Sep: Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee
- 14 Sep: House Science Space & Tech Committee Hearing: Recent Developments in NASA's Commercial Crew Acquisition Strategy
- 18 Sep: NASA Advisory Council Commercial Space Committee Meeting

Prepared Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, AIAA 2012 Space Conference

"Finally, there are some who believe that NASA has lost its edge and is no longer the world's leader in space. In fact, some have suggested that we're now number three. Sounds to me like they're either woefully uninformed or, worse, betting against America. That is never a good bet. So, for those who think our space program is in decline, I have this simple message: President Obama and NASA have "Created a Sustainable Vision for Space." America continues to lead the world in space exploration. We're successful undertaking missions that other nations can only dream about, unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of American industry to do what it does best and investing in game-changing technology that will revolutionize space travel and life on earth. The best days of our space program are ahead of us. And have no doubt: America's space program is better off than it was four years ago."

Voyages: Charting the Course for Sustainable Human Space Exploration (Report)

"This report articulates NASA's multi-destination human space exploration strategy using a capability-driven approach NASA is ensuring that the United States fosters a safe, robust, affordable, sustainable, and flexible space program by developing a set of core evolving capabilities instead of specialized, destination-specific hardware These core capabilities allow NASA the flexibility to conduct increasingly complex missions to a range of destinations over time By expanding human presence throughout the solar system, we increase our scientific knowledge, enable technological and economic growth, and inspire global collaboration and achievement."

Kennedy @Rice +50

NASA Highlights 50th Anniversary of Kennedy 'Moon Speech' and Looks Ahead

"NASA is offering a variety of special features to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's address at Rice University in Houston on Sept. 12, 1962. In that famous speech, Kennedy proclaimed, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade," which set the United States on a course of space exploration that we continue to build on today. On Wednesday, NASA Television will air in its entirety a high-quality version of the address at 11:15 a.m. EDT, the same time President Kennedy gave the speech 50 years ago."

Editorial: September 12, 1962

"While Kennedy laid out some broader motivations, once we reached the Moon the American human exploration program almost collapsed. It has suffered ever since from a lack of long term purpose beyond maintaining a level of national prestige and technological capability. A long term purpose is not beyond our reach. It is needed to provide necessary focus to our human space efforts. ... I envision President Obama at Rice University on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's speech, laying out a renewed vision."

IAF to receive back 300 unique space-flown flags at ILA 2012

"The flags, travelled in space for a total of 444 days, have been aboard Soyuz TMA-20, the International Space Station (ISS), Endeavour STS-134, Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-9. Following their last flight, they will be handed over to IAF by a Chinese delegation including Ms Ping WU, Deputy Director-General of the China Manned Space Agency, and Mr Wang LIU, the taikonaut who performed Shenzhou-9's manual docking to the ISS earlier this year."

Keith's note: "Shenzhou-9's manual docking to the ISS earlier this year"? Wow. Who knew.

12 Sep 2012: Erratum: An error appeared in our press release dated 11 September 2012. Taikonaut Wang LIU performed a docking maneuver to Tiangong-1 earlier this year, and of course not to the ISS. Please find below the corrected press release.

Obama Talks Space In Florida

Guest column: Obama's space vision, Rusty Schweickart, FL Today

"As President Obama visits the Space Coast today, we are witnessing how his policies are bringing jobs to the area and new hope to the space community. Florida's Space Coast has become not just the launching pad for commercial rockets to the station and America's launch pad for the largest heavy-lift rocket that NASA has ever built, but is now also a launching pad for new businesses and jobs of the future. In light of this leadership, Mitt Romney's candidacy presents a stark choice. Romney claims to support the space program, but like many other issues this election, Romney fails to present Americans a plan for the future of NASA and the program that is forever etched in our nation's history."

Republicans' plan for space program mirrors Obama's, opinion, FL Today

"Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee have blown it on space. For two years, Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of bungling Brevard County's signature industry. They hammered him in appearances and interviews for canceling Constellation, botching thousands of shuttle jobs and relying on the Russians for lifts to the International Space Station until private U.S. rockets fly. But given a chance to do better, Republicans in Tampa approved a platform that calls for ... staying the course. Their plan is, literally, Obama's plan."

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event: Melbourne, Florida (Excerpt)

"Here on the Space Coast, we started a new era of American exploration that is creating good jobs right here in this county. (Applause.) We've begun an ambitious new direction for NASA by laying the groundwork for 21st century space flight and innovation. And just last month, we witnessed an incredible achievement that speaks to the nation's sense of wonder and our can-do spirit -- the United States of America landing Curiosity on Mars. (Applause.)

Obama courts Florida voters over Medicare, space policy, Reuters

The president picked a tricky spot in Florida to make his case. The Melbourne area supported Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 by a wide margin, but demographic changes have made the area more friendly to Democrats, an Obama campaign official said. Mindful of the importance of the space industry to voters in a part of the state that includes the Kennedy Space Center, Obama defended his administration's handling of the space program during the rally.

Space exploration is star-crossed on campaign trail, Washington Times

Mr. Romney drew laughter during a Republican debate in Florida in January when he proclaimed that he would have fired primary contest rival Newt Gingrich for proposing the establishment of a human colony on the moon. "If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I'd say, 'You're fired,'" Mr. Romney quipped. "The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it's not a good idea."

Endeavour's Final Trip

Shuttle Endeavour to fly over California landmarks, south U.S., LA Times

"On Sept. 19 the shuttle will head to Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso for refueling and then conduct low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., before landing about midday at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, where it sometimes landed on its own after space missions. On the morning of Sept. 20, the plane will conduct low-level flyovers of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, Calif., and yet to be specified landmarks in San Francisco, Sacramento and perhaps other California cities before a low-level flyover of Los Angeles. The plane is expected to land at Los Angeles International Airport at about 11 a.m. Pacific time."

Keith's note: I asked Charlie Bolden at the Discovery arrival in Washington Dulles if there'd be a series of NASA center flyovers, stops, etc for Endeavour and he said (with some apparent regret) "no". Now I see that NASA is going out of its way to make sure the NASA family and a lot of America sees Endeavour as she heads for L.A.

Well done.

- NASA Announces Events For Space Shuttle Endeavour Departure
- NASA Ames Invites Media to Planned Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover
- NASA's Mystery Jet Flights Over Los Angeles, earlier post
- Space Shuttle Discovery: Old Friend, New Neighbor, earlier post

Voyager 1 achievements not unlike Magellan travels, moon landing, Huntsville Times

"The science is dazzling enough: the discoveries made and the measurements gauged by Voyager 1 as it hurtles toward the outer reaches of the Milky Way. But to Gary Zank, this is more than mere science."

"... What makes Voyager 1 unique, however, is that it is approaching the edge of the Milky Way. It's possible it could leave the solar system and travel into what Zank described as the "pristine" interstellar medium. In other words, to be completely free of the Milky Way and the sun's influence."

"... As for the future of Voyager 1, there is no consensus. Some scientists believe the tiny spacecraft is on the brink of breaking through the heliosphere where Voyager is currently traveling. Once clear of the heliosphere, Voyager 1 will be clear of the Milky Way."

"... Zank, however, said he believes that achievement is still five or six years away. Then a hydrogen wall barrier that has built up on the edge of the Milky Way must be cleared - something that, Zank estimates, won't happen until at least 2022 and possibly not until 2027."

"... Oh, definitely, I'll be very happy to be wrong," Zank said of the opportunity to get that pristine view beyond the Milky Way. "It will also mean I've got a lot of thinking to do about why I went wrong. But that's another good project to work on at that point."

Keith's note: Huh? The Huntsville Times thinks Voyager is approaching the edge of the Milky Way? They say this 5 times so they must think it is true.

Keith's update: The article has been fixed. This is what it originally said.

Sequestration could be Pentagon pork killer, CBS

"You might be surprised that as part of the Defense Department's mission to protect Americans, your tax dollars funded a workshop about aliens from "Star Trek" entitled: Did Jesus Die for Klingons, Too? It's just one questionable projects under the microscope of fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who's taking his red pen to cuts that he sees as no-brainers."

Not Such a Stretch to Reach for the Stars, NY Times (2011)

"... the government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, drew hundreds this month to a symposium on the 100-Year Starship Study, which is devoted to ideas for visiting the stars. ... Other talks ruminated on theological and philosophical questions. "Did Jesus Die for Klingons, Too?" was the title of one."

Confusing ITAR Compliance at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

"On 28-29 August 2012, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) held a Systems Engineering Review for a potential geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) servicing mission. Despite stating that "Interested parties must register in order to attend" a number of participants have told me that they did not register in advance and just showed up. According to attendees, during the meeting, participants were openly encouraged to use their cellphones to take pictures of the materials shown on the screen - some (but not all) of which were labeled "predecisional". None of the charts shown had any marking denoting that they were ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) sensitive in nature."

Iran Space Program Update

Iran Space Program Update, SpaceRef

The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.

"Considering the changes in the Iranian space organization during the last decade, it was amazing to find a complete stand of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) at the exhibition of the International Astronomical Congress in Cape Town last fall. This kind of openness was not in concert with the organizational changes that were signified by the more military control of the space scene and space organizations in Iran during the last five years."

Obama for America-Florida Announces New Report on President Obama's Accomplishments with the Space Community (with report)

"President Obama has been a champion, laying the groundwork for an ambitious and sustainable NASA program that is equipped for the exploration and innovation of the future, and today. Obama for America-Florida announces the release of accomplishments President Obama has chartered for the space program through his first term in office. From continued investments in deep space exploration to extending the life of the International Space Station, the President understands this nation must press forward, ensuring a future of investment in a suite of innovative space technology research efforts that will enable bold science and exploration missions in the future."

NASA To Honor Neil Armstrong at National Cathedral

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other dignitaries will attend a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong on Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency's and National Cathedral's websites."

Keith's 6 Sep 7:45 am EDT update: Sources are reporting that Neil Armstrong will be buried at sea - the date is still TBD. More to follow.

Israel Space Program Update

Military Space Drives Israel Space Program for Now, Space Quarterly Magazine

The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.

"Israel, a country of close to 8 million people with an approximate $80 million space budget, both civil and military, is ranked 9th in the world in the latest edition of Futron's Space Competitiveness Index. This, despite having less than 1/10th the GDP than four of the countries ahead of it and 1/5th of the other four. Israel is also part of a small exclusive group of nations that has the ability to both manufacture and launch its own satellites. To say that Israel is punching above its weight is an understatement. How did it reach this status? Out of sheer necessity."

Tree removal for space shuttle arrival tempers excitement, LA Times

"... for some residents in South L.A., the excitement of the shuttle rumbling through their neighborhoods quickly faded when they learned that 400 trees will be chopped down to make room for the behemoth. The California Science Center -- Endeavour's final home -- has agreed to replant twice as many trees along the route from the shuttle's docking place at Los Angeles International Airport to Exposition Park... Several alternatives for the Oct. 12 move were considered but ultimately discarded. Taking the massive shuttle apart would have damaged the delicate tiles that acted as heat sensors."

Keith's note: Just how many tiles are we talking about? Didn't NASA pull tiles on and off of shuttles on a routine basis - for decades? I am sure a few of those tile maintenance folks could have used a little consulting work. Since these shuttles are not going to fly again, why is this a big deal? The engines on these orbiters are now fake. Indeed, just today NASA announced that it was still trying to give shuttle tiles away. If NASA ever releases the actual proposals it will be interesting to see if the tree removal was mentioned and what effect it would have on property values.

Romney and Obama Campaign Responses to Question on Space Policy, ScienceDebate

12. Space. The United States is currently in a major discussion over our national goals in space. What should America's space exploration and utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps should the government take to help achieve them?

Barack Obama: ... "From investing in research on advances in spaceflight technology, to expanding our commitment to an education system that prepares our students for space and science achievements, I am committed to strengthening the base for America's next generation of spaceflight. No other country can match our capabilities in Earth observation from space. In robotic space exploration, too, nobody else comes close. And I intend to keep it that way."

Mitt Romney: "... A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. I will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic and top-priority science with inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs. Partnering Internationally. Part of leadership is also engaging and working with our allies and the international community. I will be clear about the nation's space objectives and will invite friends and allies to cooperate with America in achieving mutually beneficial goals."

Name an Asteroid

NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest for Students

"Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). Samples returned from the primitive surface of the near-Earth asteroid currently called (101955) 1999 RQ36 could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. NASA also is planning a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025. A closer scientific study of asteroids will provide context and help inform this mission."

Save Planetary Science, AGU

"The time has come for us to again stand up and fight for the future of our science. In part due to you making your voices heard, the US Congress continues work to restore a large portion of the serious cut to the FY 2013 NASA Planetary Science budget. Although the final budget won't be enacted for some months due to the election, planning in both houses of Congress looks positive. Now we must turn our attention to the source of the President's budget - the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP)."

2012 Democratic National Platform

"President Obama has charted a new mission for NASA to lead us to a future that builds on America's legacy of innovation and exploration."

Keith's note: That's it? One sentence? Not that I expected more about space (its never a hot theme in presidential cmapaigns) - but with the constant series of press releases coming out of the Obama campaign that go after Mitt Romney's space policy (or lack thereof, so they claim), at least the Romney campaign and the RNC have platform used more words to discuss the issue.

Annual invitation for public nominations by U.S. citizens for service on NASA Federal advisory committees.

"NASA announces its annual invitation for public nominations for service on NASA Federal advisory committees. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's Federal advisory committees. NASA's Federal advisory committees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its Federal advisory committees based on their individual expertise, knowledge, experience, and current/past contributions to the relevant subject area."

Romney's silence on NASA's future worries space fans, Orlando Sentinel

"Congressional and industry sources said Romney's vagueness also could be attributed to divisions within his own team. His advisers include former NASA chief Mike Griffin, who championed Constellation and the big-government approach of exploring space. But other Romney aides are said to support, at least philosophically, Obama's push to rely more on the private sector to send astronauts into orbit, in part because they see that alternative as more cost effective. The conflict pits old-school Republican support of NASA spaceflight against its fiscally conservative roots -- complicated by an unwillingness to side with the current administration. How the internal battle plays out could determine which course a Romney administration would chart for NASA."

As Republicans Call Out Romney For Having No Clear Vision For NASA, Floridians Deserve the Truth From Romney On Space Issues, Barack Obama 2012

"Over the past few months, Mitt Romney has hoped that Floridians wouldn't notice how he has no plan for NASA nor any vision for space exploration outside of the Romney-Ryan budget that would devastate the space program. But now that even Republican leaders are calling on Mitt Romney to reveal his real plans for the space program and the middle class, maybe Floridians will finally get answers from Romney."



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